Underage Club Extension Approved

OCEAN CITY- Despite concerns of a potentially harmful precedent, Ocean City officials this week approved an extension of the hours of operation for a downtown underage nightclub to accommodate after-parties for the annual cheerleading conventions.

Mayor Rick Meehan brought to the council’s attention on Tuesday a request from Epic Brands, which produces the cheerleading events two times a year at the Convention Center, to extend the hours of operation at the H2O underage nightclub on Wicomico Street. Meehan explained for the past few years, Epic has hosted an after-party at H2O following the competition, but because of the growth of the annual conventions at the length of time, the after-party often has to close down before many of the participants can arrive.

“Because the event have gotten so big and run so late, many of the participants can’t get down to H2O for the after-parties,” he said. “The code requires the underage clubs to close at 12:45 a.m., but Epic is requesting a special exception to close at 1:45 a.m. on those three particular nights. I think we should accommodate the request. They bring a lot of people into town and they’re not going away. They’re expanding.”

Meehan said if the council approved the closing time change, City Solicitor Guy Ayres could write the special exception into the code. The council ultimately agreed, but not before raising some concerns about the precedent it might set.

“We had a huge discussion about the hours for our underage clubs when this came before us,” said Councilmember Margaret Pillas. “What does this do to that? What would keep them from coming back for other nights and extended hours?”

Meehan said it could be written into the code as a one-time issue.

“This is a request from one of the major users of our convention center,” he said. “I think the council could make future decisions on a case-by-case basis.”